Over the past couple of months we've been busy plugging away in the church plant in Guadalajara, attempting to send down roots and to become more firmly rooted and grounded as a church. In addition, we've been extremely blessed to be able to host brethren from Peru and the United States for two back-to-back conferences we had in Guadalajara. We had around 100 people show up for each of the conferences. We are extremely grateful and humbled by their visits and give thanks to God for their lives and ministries.
I hope to get a picture of the church one Sunday soon. Though about half of the brethren were absent, here's a picture during a recent fellowship cookout:
Here's a picture of some of the brethren evangelizing on the streets downtown with their T-shirts. The sign says, "Danger! Sin Kills":
HeartCry Conference in Guadalajara
The first conference we had in the beginning of June was with Martín Zacarías and Eder Machuca. Martín is a dear beloved brother in the Lord and a seasoned preacher who pastors a church in Lima, Peru and oversees HeartCry Missionary Society's work in Peru. Here's a couple of pictures of Martín and Eder with Lina and I and with some of the brethren:
Unfortunely, I don't have any pictures of the actual conference! Sorry... but if you speak Spanish you can see the sermons online at this link.
The conference was a tremendous blessing and the Lord really confirmed a lot of strong truth to many hearts with convicting power and encouragement in the Spirit. The conference theme was "The Biblical Church and the Biblical Family". On one of the conference days, we started at 10am and didn't finish until about 2am! And many people stayed the whole time, hungry for truth! There was preaching and fellowship all day, with sermons, Q and A sessions, and exhorting one another to press on and glorify Christ. Almost 2 months have gone by and I can say that there is fruit that has resulted from their time here.
We were greatly edified by brother Martín, believe their visit was useful and a great blessing, and hope to be able to work with them again. I was encouraged to hear how the Lord is using them all over Latin America and surprised to hear that many of our burdens and ministry methodology is very similar, as what they are doing in Peru is very similar to what we are praying and laboring to see happen in Mexico, in terms of training men, working to see the Lord raise up laborers, and planting biblical churches.
Conference with Tim Conway
We were also blessed to receive a visit from Tim Conway, pastor at Grace Community Church of San Antonio (our overseeing church). Along with brother Tim came 4 others from the church, including a couple young ladies who are staying with us until August to help out with the ministry. Their visit was also a tremendous blessing and encouragement to us.
We hosted another conference in order to take advantage of Tim's visit. This conference also consisted of a few days of preaching, fellowship and Q and A sessions. We had a good turnout, and the Lord certainly used the Word that was preached to convict, admonish, rebuke, exhort, encourage, edify and bless. We believe the time was very fruitful and the Lord used it to shake some religious sleepers from their drunken stupor.
Unfortunely, I don't have any pictures from this conference either! But, we do have the videos online on our Youtube Channel. They are in English and Spanish.
Church Plant in Guadalajara
Many new faces have been coming to the church in Guadalajara recently. The work is growing, not just in number, but by the grace of God, in a genuine work of grace in the hearts of people. There are several professions of faith that have been made recently by people who seem to have experienced a Spirit-wrought conversion. A couple have already requested baptism. Several more seem to be under conviction, awakened to their lost state, and I pray they are occupying themselves with a due diligence to striving to enter the narrow gate. Please pray that the Lord of glory would open their eyes to behold the perfect, finished work of Christ and embrace him with the arms of faith so that they may be saved and find rest for their souls from their wearisome burden of sin.
Our average Sunday attendance is now numbering in the 40's. Our church membership has grown by one person (however, a person has also been removed). However, we currently have 8 people seeking membership, most of which, if not all, will most probably soon be added to the number. I say these things not to call attention to increasing numbers (which can be deceiving and don't necessarily signify a true work of the Spirit of God), but to inform you so you can know the progress of the church plant and pray accordingly, knowing that we are making use of due means to care first and foremost for the purity of the church rather than the size of the church. Yet at the same time, I am encouraged that the Lord is doing a work in Guadalajara by HIs grace, and that the work is growing because of His blessed hand upon it. It is my heart's desire that the Lord would save souls and add to his church constantly (Acts 2:47).
More brethren are occupying themselves in ministries and responsibilities in the church, which is encouraging. More are going out to evangelize on the streets, in a drug rehabilitation center, and now at two different area hospitals. The prayers in the prayer meetings center around the salvation of souls, the comforting of saints in affliction, the saint's growth in grace, and the expansion of the Gospel in Guadalajara, Mexico and beyond. Different sisters have taken responsibility to rotate the cooking of fellowship meals for our Sunday meetings. It is encouraging to see the brethren care for one another, love one another, go out of their way to help one another and bear each other's burdens, and serve one another. I am encouraged that the Lord's hand is on the work because while one's zeal for public ministry can possibly be feigned, the organic fellowship that flows from a heart filled with Christlike brotherly love cannot --and both time and space, along with the potential of betraying personal details, prevent me from illustrating with many particular accounts of how this is happening among us to the glory of God.
Projects on the table right now with regard to the church plant, which I am currently working on include:
Other important projects are planned for the future if the Lord wills, not the least of which includes prayers and plans about strategic ways to increase our evangelistic exposure and outreach, but this gives you an idea of our current projects at the moment. Please pray for our evangelistic efforts in Jalisco, as two of the major possibilities on the near horizon seem to be radio ministry in Guadalajara and prison ministry. In addition, I have several outside preaching engagements at conferences for September and October here in Jalisco and in another state in Mexico. I'm also seeking to revise and print a booklet I authored explaining the Gospel, and finalizing the printing of 50,000 tracts for distribution around Mexico. We need your prayers, for without the grace of God all our efforts are just the vain contrivances of fleshly ambition that will leave no lasting fruit. We dare not run without the pillar of fire and the cloud of glory leading the way. We need the power of the Living God. And Mexico desperately needs the Gospel.
Brethren, if I only told you of the ministry possibilities opening up... there are open doors on all sides. Yet the laborers are so very few and we are limited by our lack of laborers. This is by far our greatest need.
Yet, last but not least, LINA IS ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH WITHIN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS!!! We are excited and I am somewhat fearful at the same time, as we await the arrival of our first child. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for those who are shown their love and care for us and have been praying for her and the baby. We are thankful for all the prayers, words of encouragement, and gifts from the saints. May our sovereign God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead richly bless you and encourage your hearts, brethren!
In Christ -Josef Urban